A Charmed Life

March 4th, 2011


For some reason, I’ve always held onto wine corks.  Maybe because it’s more practical than saving the empty bottle of a vintage you loved—just a tiny little thing, printed with the winery name and dyed a purple-red on one end from the wine it held.  But really, one of the reasons I’ve kept them is that I’ve been waiting for the day I could make something cool out of them.  And behold, these wine charms!  Make a custom set for your next dinner party, or leave them blank so guests can initial or draw on them themselves when they arrive.

Be forewarned, these are kind of addictive once you start making them.  Also, if you haven’t been hoarding corks for years like I have, this craft actually requires you to drink!

What you’ll need:
wine corks
bread knife you don’t care about or small saw (like a coping saw)
wire hoops or long eye pins (both found in the jewelry-making section of any craft store)
small letter stencils
a nail
burnishing stylus (optional)

A note before we start: If you have some regular old wire in your house, you can use it in lieu of what I’m showing here!  Also, I found some corks that were printed on the ends … they ended up making great-looking charms, so if you spot any of those make sure to use them!

or you can eyeball it ...

1. Choose your corks and then find a good cutting surface.  I was originally going to use a coping saw to slice up mine, but when I couldn’t find it I pulled out an old bread knife and a cutting board – these are not much tougher than an extra crusty baguette, but you probably wouldn’t want to use an expensive knife on them!  If you’d like the charms to be exactly even in size, you can mark the cork with a pen.


2. Start slicing – I cut mine about a quarter inch thick.  Be careful!  I found that some corks cut a bit easier than others.  And don’t be a hero—if the remaining cork is getting too small to hang onto, drop it and start using another.

nailed it!

3. Once you’ve got all your slices made, take them to a surface you can hammer on.  A phone book will do in a pinch!  You can use any size nail that you have on hand, and hammer it through the cork towards the top of one side.

holed up

4. Push the nail all the way through and wiggle it around a bit—cork has a way of self-healing, and you want to make sure you can find the hole later, so it helps to widen it as much as you can with the nail.

stencil time

5. After you’ve put holes in all of the rounds, you can customize them.  I used an alphabet stencil I got at the dollar store.  You can also freehand letters or numbers or even use tiny stamps if you have them.

you don't have to do this


6. This part is optional—I used a stylus to slightly indent the letters and numbers that I stenciled on the cork.  I did this because I’m a teensy bit obsessed with the look of letterpress, but you don’t have to do it!

oh so charming

7. Thread your wire or hoop through and that is it, my friends.  You never have to hear, “Wait, which glass was mine?” in your house EVER AGAIN!!

cup o' charms

all in a row